Son of the Morning Star
Custer and the Little Bighorn
by Evan S. Connell
Publisher: North Point Press
Perhaps no episode in American history has done so much to forge our attitudes and national character as the unsurpation of Indian lands in the inexorable passage of westward settlement. And no incident in that struggle has overshadowed in our imagination the obliteration of General George Armstrong Custer's Seventh Cavalry at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Yet the human story of the battle, of the federal and Indian antagonists, and of the battle's place in the context of the Plains Indian Wars has never been so marvelously told.
Mr. Connell has brought his skills as a storyteller to this meticulously researched book, part biography of Custer, part history of the Plains Indian Wars. Mr. Connell dwells on the rare human details historians often ignore: he tells of Crazy Horse on a pilgrimage to the burial scaffold of his infant daughter; Lt. Calhoun -- who probably mounted the only organized defense at the Little Bighorn -- carrying a cake into battle; Chief Gall listening to Mendelssohn's Wedding March. Yet within the participants' common humanity lay a common savagery -- Mr. Connell recalls the graffiti scribbled by a seventeenth-century French deserter in Illinois: Nous sommes tous sauvages.
In Son of the Morning Star, Mr. Connell explores deeply the personalities of Custer and the other federal and Indian leaders. Custer, seen by some as a hero, by others as the cause of the defeat, was an enigmatic and extravagant figure, fearless in battle and sentimental in repose. It is said that on first seeing through field glasses the more than four miles of allied Indian camps, he exclaimed, "Hurrah, boys, we've got them!" Disregarding a Cheyenne warning, Custer rode to his death -- and lead to death every man of the Seventh Cavalry who followed him. A foolish miscalculation ended the life of the man Indian allies had named "Son of the Morning Star." The story is told that after the battle a squaw drove a sewing awl through his ear and into his skull so that he might hear better in the next world.
Of Mr. Connell's historical writing, Diane Johnson has said, "Evan Connell's armchair travels through time and space are as wonderful as his novels. [They] have almost the suspense of a novel . . . but these figures really lived . . . and we can be grateful that [he] has brought thm back to life so vividly."
Although the Indian forces won the battle on the field, in the greater context of their struggle to retain their land and culture in the face of westward expansion, the victory was a great defeat, followed by death, exile, humiliation, relentless pursuit, and betrayal, Son of the Morning Star recreates an era from our past that haunts us still.
Condition: Used. Hardcover. Dust cover. Pages are tanning from age. Dust cover flaps may be tanning from age. Dust cover shows a little edge wear. There's a small tear at the bottom of the back dust cover and where it tore, there's a crease.
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